365 Wrestling, Day 32: El Mesias vs. Takeshi Morishima (AAA, 2/1/10)

365 Wrestling, Day 32: El Mesias vs. Takeshi Morishima (AAA, 2/1/10)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

One month worth of matches is in the books and now it’s on to February. This also marks the project’s first foray into Mexico–specifically, AAA, for this match between El Mesias and Takeshi Morishima from February 1, 2010.

You can watch this match on Dailymotion.

The Context

Mesias has gone by all kinds of names in wrestling, starting out in his native Puerto Rico as Ricky Banderas. He also worked as Banderas in Wrestling Society X. He started out in AAA in 2006 as Muerte Cibernetica, masked muscle for top rudo Cibernetico. After losing his mask to La Parka, he shifted to the El Mesias gimmick. After several years as a top heel himself in AAA, Mesias turned at the end of 2008 and he’s still a strong fan favorite here. Mesias also is in his third reign as Mega Champion at the time of this match. Positioned as the top title in AAA, Mesias was also the first to hold the championship back in 2007. If you’re not a big fan of lucha libre, or unless you caught his run in TNA as Judas Mesias, you probably know him best as Mil Muertes from Lucha Underground and, now, MLW.

Morishima already has reigns as ROH World Champion and GHC Heavyweight Champion — the top title in Pro Wrestling NOAH — under his belt as he makes his way to Mexico for this match. He’s actually an injury replacement, according to some research I did. The original matchup was meant to be a champion vs. champion meeting with Mesias defending against Go Shiozaki, the reigning GHC champ at the time. When Shiozaki got hurt, Morishima stepped in as the replacement.

The Match

AAA is using a six-sided ring, and not a big one at that. It makes Morishima look gigantic, and he towers over the tecnico Mesias and dominates the first half of the match. I don’t speak enough Spanish to understand the commentary but some of the reactions transcend the language barrier; take, for example, how the announcer reacts when Morishima hits a charging hip attack on a seated Mesias. The production crew finds this match so nice they show it twice, with a slow-motion replay. Mid-match replays become frequent in this match (I counted six of them), and while they all come after big spots, by the time the camera cuts back to live action, the next big move is already being set up. Seeing big move after big move with none of the in-between made me feel like I was watching a highlight reel rather than a match.

Mesias finally drops Morishima by putting some extra mustard on a spear (he actually flips over in midair). After finally felling his Japanese foe, the match breaks down when members of La Legion Extranjera — aka The Foreign Legion — hit the ring and attack Mesias. Four tecnicos sprint out to even the odds and chase away the heels. The good guys then decide to pounce on Morishima and all get wiped out for their trouble. Unbeknownst to him but knownst to everyone else, Mesias is lying in wait, hoisting Morishima for a fireman’s carry and hitting a cutter to finish the match.

Random Thoughts

–The archives of Luchablog, an outstanding and highly-recommended resource for all things related to lucha libre, helped me identify all the guys involved in the run-ins at the end. Alex Koslov, Zorro, and Chessman are the three Legion members who hit the ring. They’re countered by the tecnico quartet of Super Fly, Argenis, Gato Eveready, and Laredo Kid. You might know Koslov from his run in New Japan Pro Wrestling, while Super Fly and Argenis were also part of the Lucha Underground cast of characters. Gato was also in Lucha Underground, but as Drago–one of my favorites from the show.

–Mesias is still active but Morishima had to retire from wrestling in 2015 due to poor physical and mental health. If you’ve not checked out any of his run as ROH champ, you should. He had memorable matches against Bryan Danielson and the man who defeated him, Nigel McGuinness, but don’t sleep on other defenses against other legit heavyweights like Claudio Castagnoli and Brent Albright.

Final Rating: 5.0

Morishima hits some impressive moves (that shotgun dropkick off the top stands out, and is treated as the big deal it should be), and there’s nothing really wrong with it, but this match is too short to truly be memorable.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

Up Next

What happens when two of the most popular tag teams of the 1980s face off in their one and only meeting?

(Photo by Daniela Herrerias)

I welcome any and all feedback. Feel free to reach out on Twitter where you also can keep up with all the updates on 365 Wrestling. Send a tweet, a DM, or fill out the contact form on the site to suggest a match to watch for one of the upcoming dates.

365 Wrestling, Day 8: Kenta Kobashi vs. Minoru Suzuki (NOAH Great Voyage, 1/8/05)

365 Wrestling, Day 8: Kenta Kobashi vs. Minoru Suzuki (NOAH Great Voyage, 1/8/05)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

We made it a full week into the project, you guys! Only 51 weeks and 357 entries to go …

A few days ago I watched and wrote about a Minoru Suzuki match and opined about Suzuki’s greatness. While doing research and seeking out matches to watch, I found this treasure from Pro Wrestling NOAH‘s Great Voyage 2005, where Suzuki challenged Kenta Kobashi for the GHC Heavyweight Title.

You can find this match on Youtube with some strategic searching.

Let’s get to it.

The Context

This is the 13th defense for Kobashi, who won the GHC Title in March of 2003. That reign has created a long-running story in NOAH, where one grueling title match after another have worn down Kobashi.

Suzuki comes in as the arrogant heel freelancer, and at the time, this is just his third match in a NOAH ring.

The Match

Watch a Suzuki match from recent years (yeah, he’s still going strong) and you’re likely to see him go at his opponent throwing forearms or open-hand slaps — especially if he’s going against a longtime nemesis like Yuji Nagata or someone with a similar hard-nosed style like Tomohiro Ishii. Here, giving up a ton of size to the champion and being considerably younger, Suzuki uses his quickness and catch wrestling skill, quickly establishing himself as the fleet-footed arrogant challenger to the beloved champion’s lengthy reign.

When I say beloved, I mean it. The NOAH crowd is so behind Kobashi that when he clamps a headlock on Suzuki at the five-minute mark, the fans LOSE THEIR MINDS. For a headlock. The two wrestlers stick with it; Suzuki crumples in the hold as Kobashi wrenches, and when the action briefly spills to the floor, Kobashi re-applies the headlock, gets back to his feet, clambers up on the apron and drags Suzuki into the ring, still ensnared. The crowd loves every bit of this.

Choices like an extended headlock seem wise the way Kobashi is moving so gingerly. A pair of massive knee pads indicate the accumulation of damage he has accrued in 15-plus years wrestling regularly for both All Japan and NOAH, and any actual running by Kobashi is absent aside from one Burning Lariat where he charges off the ropes to wallop Suzuki at center ring.

Kobashi brings the intensity and has the fans, but Suzuki makes this match go. After eating machine gun chops in the corner by the champ, Suzuki catches Kobashi’s arm on a follow up and transitions into his hanging triangle choke over the ropes, setting up a focus on the right arm of Kobashi that remains a theme of the challenger’s offense for the rest of the contest. Suzuki briefly tortures the right arm of Kobashi, a harbinger to the brutal, would-be-banned-by-the-Geneva-Convention type of torment he inflicts on opponents’ limbs in more current bouts. Kobashi weathers the storm, surviving a standing RNC on the outside of the ring by crawling off the elevated entrance aisle. In another example of the evolution of Suzuki’s character and wrestling, Suzuki hits his Gotch piledriver — a sure-fire match ender today — but doesn’t even go for a pin after hitting it here, reveling in downing the popular champion and toying with him.

Instead, Suzuki is focused on making the champion submit. He elicits anguish with an octopus stretch. Then, after Kobashi rallies with the aforementioned lariat and his powerbomb into a jackknife pin, Suzuki promptly counters into an MMA armbar. Kobashi outlasts this too, and then unleashes hell on Suzuki with two clubbing clotheslines, a running lariat, and a backdrop driver. Slaps by Suzuki only anger the champion, who unleashes yet another lariat and three consecutive backdrop drivers. A final, feeble slap by Suzuki shows the outcome is inevitable, as a Burning Lariat finishes the match and Kobashi’s 13th defense.

Random Thoughts

–Great Voyage is one of the biggest events of the year in NOAH and this match definitely has that big-fight feel.

–This would be the final successful defense for Kobashi, who goes on to lose the GHC Title to Takeshi Rikio in March.

Final Rating: 6.8

There’s a lot to like and the novelty of the matchup is one of the main attractions for watching. Making an early-match headlock compelling and creative was quite the feat. Still, with Kobashi facing some physical limitations, the end result only reaches a certain height. I’ve not watched nearly as much of Kobashi and the others from the Four Pillars era of All Japan as I should — definitely something I’ll remedy as this project continues.

What’s Next

Tag team mayhem in Memphis.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

Got a match you’d like me to watch as part of this 365 Wrestling project? Agree or disagree with my take on this match? Let me know by using the contact form on this site, or reach me on Twitter.